Becca Nightshade

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Becca Nightshade
Children Zeen Nightshade
Parents Spensa's great-grandmother & Spensa's great-grandfather
Descendants Spensa Nightshade
Abilities Cytonics
Aliases Gran-Gran
World Detritus
Universe Cytoverse
Featured In Skyward (series)
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We must not cower in the dark because we are afraid of the spark within us.

—Becca on cytonic abilities[1]

Becca Nightshade, more commonly known as Gran-Gran, was a member of the crew of the Defiant and is now a resident of Igneous Cavern.[2] She has cytonic abilities and does not consider them to be dangerous.[1]

Appearance and Personality[edit]

Becca is mostly blind and has milky white eyes, having lost her vision a few years ago. She has sticklike arms.[2] Based on the amount of time since the crash of the Defiant, she is at least eighty years old, likely near or over ninety.[3]

She is a fierce defender of cytonics and believes the DDF falsified the account of her son's betrayal during the Battle of Alta because they were afraid of his cytonic abilities.[1]

She has always wanted to return to the stars,[4] and eventually briefly does so when the National Assembly brings her with them during their attempt to surrender to the Superiority.[5] She also believes her mother brought the Defiant to Detritus because she felt something that the crew needed on that planet.[4]

Attributes and Abilities[edit]

Knowledge of Old Earth[edit]

Even [when we had] computers and libraries and all kinds of reminders, we found it easy to forget where we came from

—Becca Nightshade on how easily the crew of the Defiant forgot about Old Earth[1]

Even when the people of Detritus were still on the Defiant, most had little knowledge of Old Earth, and that knowledge has only diminished in the years since the Defiant crashed.[1] Among them, Becca stands out as one of the few who still remember the stories humans used to tell. The following is a list of all the people from Old Earth that Becca has mentioned or who others have recalled her mentioning:

  • Beowulf:[2] A Germanic hero who defeats a series of three monsters.
  • Leif Eriksson:[2] The first European to find one of the American continents.
  • Sun Tzu:[2] A Chinese general famous for his military tactics.
  • Genghis Khan:[2] A Mongol who conquered a large region in Asia and Eastern Europe.
  • Queen Boudicca:[2] A Celtic warrior who led a rebellion against the Roman Empire.
  • Gilgamesh:[6] The first recorded hero; travels to the Underworld and tries to escape death.
  • Joan of Arc:[6] A French soldier who rallied the French armies to drive the English out of France in the Hundred Years' War.
  • Tarzan of Greystroke:[6] A fictional child raised by great apes.
  • Junmi: An author born sometime after the present day who wrote the book The Conquest of Space.[7]
  • Tashenamani:[8] A Sioux women, also known as Moving Robe Woman, who fought against Colonel George Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn. According to Spensa, she killed Custer, though the historical evidence of this is ambiguous.
  • Conan the Cimmerian:[8] A highly skilled fictional warrior whose story takes place before the rise of any known civilizations.
  • Odysseus:[8] An ancient Greek hero who fought in the Trojan War and then endured a long and difficult voyage home. After he flirts with her, Spensa tells Bim that Odysseus had blue hair like he does.[8]
  • Alexander the Great:[1] A Macedonian king known for his conquest of Greece, the Achaemenid Persian Empire, Egypt, and part of India.
  • Hervor:[1] A shieldmaiden from Norse mythology who challenged her father's spirit for his sword, Tyrfing, which Becca refers to as "[stealing] the sword the dead."[1]
  • Hua Mulan:[9] A Chinese woman who disguised herself as a man to fight in the army.
  • Epipole of Carystus:[9] An ancient Greek woman who disguised herself as a man to fight in the Trojan War.
  • Pine Leaf:[10] A Crow women, also known as Woman Chief, who was a chief and warrior of her people. Gran-Gran told Spensa that she once fought four men at once, though M-Bot says it is uncertain if that is true.
  • The Shadow:[10] Gran-Gran has told Spensa the story of a writer who lost his shadow, only for it to return and take control of his life, likely from the fairy tale The Shadow by Hans Christian Andersen.
  • Stanislav Petrov:[4] A Soviet air force officer who realized that an early-warning system was malfunctioning and disobeyed orders by not reporting what the system claimed was a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union.

Cytonic Abilities[edit]

Becca has cytonic abilities, though her knowledge and training are limited.[4][11] Prior to Jorgen's discovery of the taynix on Detrtius, she says that she is not strong enough to use more advanced cytonic abilities, like travel through the nowhere;[4] however, she later apparently hyperjumps with Cobb to escape the Superiority,[12] though Alanik is unable to cytonically locate her afterwards.[13] Despite her blindness, she has an unerring ability to focus on someone during a conversation, tell when someone has arrived before they speak, and notice even minute details like someone rolling or opening their eyes;[2][1][4] this suggests she uses her cytonic abilities to Sense the world around her and overcome her blindness, much like Jason Write did.[14] She also claims to be able to "hear" Cobb, which surprises Alanik, who believes it is impossible to cytonically sense people who aren't cytonics.[12] Becca is also able to engage in faster-than-light communication with Spensa,[15] though she was not strong enough to maintain the connection for long.[4] Nedd Strong appears to believe that she has the power to cytonically read minds,[16] though that seems unlikely as it has long been considered impossible.[14]


As a child, Becca lived on the the battle cruiser Defiant, where she worker in the engine room alongside her mother. When doing so, she practiced "listening to the stars."[2] During this time, she learned many ancient legends of Old Earth from her father.[1]

Not much is known about what she did in the years following the crash of the Defiant, though she claims that those who worked in the engine room, Clan Motorskaps, stuck together.[2] Since at least the time of her son's death, she has been living with her granddaughter, Spensa Nightshade, and Spensa's mother. Since Spensa's mother is forbidden a job, she assists in keeping the family financially stable by helping prepare algae wraps and the rats Spensa kills to be sold. While living with Spensa, she frequently tells her granddaughter the stories of Old Earth heroes that she heard from her father and says that all of Old Earth's great warriors are Spensa's ancestors.[2]

After the Battle of Alta Second, she begins to develop a relationship with the new DDF Admiral of the Fleet, Cobb.[17] When Jorgen Weight reveals to Cobb that he has cytonic abilities, he sends Jorgen to train with Becca.[18] She insists the Jorgen call her "Gran-Gran" and trains him by teaching him to bake bread with his eyes closed and by trying to get him to reach out and sense the world cytonically. She also tells him the story of Stanislav and tells him that her mother's decision to bring the Defiant to Detritus taught her that a hero has to know "when to disobey orders."[4] While she is training Jorgen, Spensa is able to contact her with her cytonic abilities and she encourages Spensa to face her trials, no matter how ill-suited to them she feels.[4][15] By the time she is training Jorgen, her cytonic abilities appear to be known at least among Skyward Flight.[11][19]



A hero does not choose her trials, Spensa. She steps into the darkness [and] then she faces what comes next

—Becca to Spensa about being a hero[15]

Spensa is very close to her grandmother. She enjoys all of Becca's stories about the warriors of Old Earth and frequently looks to them for inspiration and courage;[2] Becca specifically told her those stories because she felt Spensa needed to hear them.[4] After Spensa began to find out the truth of her father's cytonic abilities and his actions during the Battle of Alta, she sought out Becca for answers, though they are not entirely to her liking.[1] Ultimately, however, Spensa choose her grandmother's tales of heroism over the DDF's fears of the "defect" and both flies[20] and travels to space[21] during the Battle of Alta Second. When Spensa is feeling overwhelmed by her mission to Starsight, Becca is able to contact her cytonically and reassure her.[15]

Spensa's Mother[edit]

Despite the fact that they live together, Becca's relationship with Spensa's mother is quite strained. Spensa's mother feels that Becca focuses too intensely on heritage, and tells Spensa that Becca makes it "a box instead of an inspiration."[1] This disagreement runs deep enough that Spensa's mother forbade Becca from telling Spensa about her family's history of cytonic abilities. Despite their differences, however, both women are adamant that Spensa's father was not a coward.


Becca seems to have taken a liking to the DDF's new Admiral of the Fleet after the Battle of Alta Second, Cobb. On at least one occasion, she bakes him pie, which he says is "excellent." In turn, he respects her enough to care for Spensa for her sake and to send Jorgen Weight to her instead of the DDF's Psychological Corps when he admits to having cytonic abilities.[17][18]

Jorgen Weight[edit]

Becca teaches Jorgen to use his cytonic abilities to sense the world around him in strange ways, such as by teaching him to bake bread with his eyes closed. She expects him to resent this and try to cheat at it, like Spensa did, but Jorgen treats her as his new commanding officer and readily follows her orders; she has to instruct him to call her "Gran-Gran" instead of "sir." As she begins to understand him, she tells him the story of Stanislav to teach him that heroes have to know when to trust their instincts and disobey orders.[4] He accepts her teachings enough to follow the sounds he cytonically hears coming from below the deep caverns for several days, without any direct orders, which eventually leads him to a cavern with hundreds of taynix.[22]


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